FOOTBALL: Win at Knockbreda keeps Ballyclare Comrades at the summit

Ballyclare's Paddy Flood collects against Knockbreda
Ballyclare's Paddy Flood collects against Knockbreda

KNOCKBREDA 1 BALLYCLARE COMRADWES 2

With only 18 players left on the pitch at the finish, there had been fireworks, but little fluent football, for the fans as Ballyclare Comrades saw off Knockbreda. The referee handed out four red cards during a fiercely contested second half at Breda Park, where the hosts finished with eight players while Comrades had 10.

Knockbreda's Ryan Arthur and Ballyclare's Mark Kelly

Knockbreda's Ryan Arthur and Ballyclare's Mark Kelly

The 2-1 win means that Clifford Adams’ lads sit proudly at the Bluefin Sports Championship summit alongside Portadown, these two being the only teams to have their one hundred per cent records intact after two rounds of fixtures.

Comrades started off unchanged from the side that had accounted for Loughgall, but they were under the cosh for most of the first half, against a side that relied heavily on long ball tactics.

Only a fine early save by Paddy Flood prevented Murray from scoring, but in the 11th minute Comrades were one up when Paul Maguire converted a penalty after Mark Kelly had been fouled.

Seconds later Flood had a let-off when Halliday’s effort crashed against the post, and moments later Flood dashed off his line to thwart the dangerous Murray.

On the half hour Flood, who was much busier than his opposite number, finger-tipped a Newberry shot round the post, with Comrades’ best effort being a Maguire drive that flashed wide.

Comrades were fortunate to turn round one up, but the scores were level again five minutes in to the second session, when Murray’s free cleared the wall and beat Flood.

Ballyclare fans were enraged when Kelly was red carded for an off the ball incident, with his opponent claiming that he had been head-butted. Eight minutes later it was ten against ten with the first of Breda’s three dismissals, when McVeigh departed following a robust tackle.

By this stage the Reds had the edge, but Flood pulled off the most spectacular save of the afternoon when he tipped a Murray rocket over the bar.

Comrades deservedly regained the lead n the 71st minute, when Samuel McIlveen fired one of his characteristic free kicks in to the bottom corner of the net from twenty-two yards.

Moments late McIlveen almost repeated the performance, but this time was foiled by keeper Cairnduff who diverted the ball round the angle of the woodwork.

McBurney’s second yellow card reduced Breda to nine men, and Comrades almost scored a third when Johnston connected with a Kyle Mackie cross, but once again Cairnduff was equal to the task.

In the 88th minute Patterson got a straight red for a dangerous tackle, but despite being short-handed the city side almost salvaged a point in injury time, when they had strong claims for a penalty rejected after Flood collided with Murray.

“We didn’t play well in the first half, but we deserved to win on our second half performance,” stressed Adams. “After the game the referee said that Mark Kelly’s red card was for excessive use of the shoulder, but the Knockbreda player made the most of an innocuous challenge,” he added.

Ballyclare Comrades: Flood; C Woods, Rodgers, Youle, Gray; Brown, McIlveen, Dobbin (C), Robinson; Maguire, Kelly. Subs: Mackie for Maguire 78, Parker for Brown 73, Johnston for Robinson 85; not used, McCart, McKinty (GK).

Comrades Reserves defeated Lola FC 5-1 in a pre season friendly, with Michael O’Hanlon (2), Stewart Nixon, Josh Corry and Reece Gilmour the scorers. They start their Championship Development League programme against Dundela at Dixon Park on Saturday, kick-off at noon.

In the Co Antrim Shield Ballyclare Comrades have draw Linfield at home on Tuesday, September 19.